Full Circle of Lake County participants and staff

Full Circle of Lake County participants and staff present their community safety survey at Lake County High School. From back left is Bill Nelson, Adrian Luna, Elijah Durrand, Anthony Harris, Jesus Flores, Sebastian Gonzales, Truth Mooney and Michael Ortiz. From front left is:  Elijah Ferguson, Kaden Osborn, Christian Gutierrez and Christain Luna.

Full Circle of Lake County is trying to make Leadville a safer place.

High-school students from the nonprofit’s Youth Action Squad and Be Awesome group spent the fall semester collecting data on the community’s perception of safety in and around Leadville. About 77% of survey respondents said they generally feel safe in Lake County.

In past years, Full Circle’s annual safety survey focused upon Lake County School District facilities. This year, the nonprofit widened the survey’s scope to include questions about community parks, county services and local law enforcement.

“It’s about a balance of asking the right questions but not too many questions,” Bill Nelson, Full Circle’s manager of youth development, said of designing the survey.

Full Circle collected 178 surveys throughout the semester. The majority of respondents were Lake County High School students and teachers, most of whom were interviewed by the Be Awesome group during school lunch. The Youth Action Squad also completed interviews at a variety of community events.

Most of the data was collected through a bilingual questionnaire, which was primarily taken on tablets or cell phones. “We wanted to see more diversity in the survey and some kids at our school feel more comfortable speaking Spanish,” high school student Jesus Flores said of the bilingual questionnaire.

Respondents were also asked to place color-coded dots on maps of Lake County in areas where they might feel particularly safe or unsafe.

One takeaway from the survey was the discrepancy between white and non-white respondents’ perception of safety in Lake County. About 85% of white respondents identified themselves as generally feeling safe while only 73% of non-white respondents said so.

Only 56% of respondents said they feel safe at the local skate park. According to Full Circle, several people mentioned drug and alcohol use as an issue at the facility.

“I think there are lots of adults being unsafe around kids at the skate park,” Full Circle participant Hailey Vogel told the Herald.

About 76% of respondents said they feel safe along the Mineral Belt Trail. Some people suggested installing more lights along the bike path, especially on the stretch from Lake County Intermediate School to U.S. 24.

About 87% of respondents said they feel safe at the Lake County Library while about 76% felt comfortable at the Lake County DMV.

In terms of interacting with the Leadville Police Department, about 68% of respondents said they feel safe, 23% said they feel uncomfortable and 8% said they feel unsafe. The Lake County Sheriff’s Office numbers were slightly lower.

“It was hard to pinpoint whether people wanted more of a police presence or less,” Full Circle Youth Engagement Specialist Christian Luna said.

Several residents, many of whom live in Mountain View Village, identified bears as a community safety concern.

The Be Awesome group and the Youth Action Squad presented their findings to LCSD and Leadville City Council earlier this month. Students recommended increasing the LPD’s presence at the skate park and adding lights to sections of the Mineral Belt Trail.

“I really appreciate all of the work you have put into this,” Chief of Police Saige Bertolas told the students. Bertolas and Full Circle plan to meet before next year’s survey to coordinate on priority mapping areas.

“The most challenging part was learning how to present data to pinpoint what we wanted,” Flores said.

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